Posts tagged iphone

Microsoft announces Multitouch Mouse

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Microsoft has recently announced a “Touch Mouse” at the CES-Conference which is going to be primarily focused on bringing Touch-Features to Windows 7 (who’d have thought that). It’s going to be released Mid-2011 for about 80€ (so I guess around 90$ in the US) and here’s what it looks like:

http://m-kuttner.com/blog//HLIC/a9cecd47b57b759a94038444a9ee96c9.jpg

The first thing I thought was that this really seems like a well-designed piece of hardware. Something I don’t recall seeing from Microsoft in a while now, leaving Kinect aside. Because in my humble opinion, it’s not even about designing something that everybody loves to look at but just putting enough effort into the design of a product that it does not look like it’s cheaper than its internal specifications make it worth.

Best example for that: No one even remotely cared about the fact that the first generation iPhone had no 3G-Functionality, no regular Bluetooth, no regular Audio-Jack and things like that which we had already gotten used to from Smartphones around it. Its selling-point was all about the Multitouch and its looks basically.

So my basic message here is that even if this “Touch Mouse” from Microsoft doesn’t out-perform similar products that came before it, it still might out-sell them if it becomes something that people just want to have sitting on their desk.

Screen shot 2010-12-28 at 3.14.26 28. Dec

iPhone vs. Android (Searchdown)

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Today for the first time I tried out the Google Trends Webpage for myself. First confrontation that came to mind was as obvious as it was surprising.

It somehow makes sense when actually it doesn’t. Searches for “iPhone” since even before its release have never once been surpassed by those for “Android”. Another fun-fact is that it seems like the lower blue Graph has some direct connections to the upper one. Whenever the News Reference Volume for “iPhone” increased heavily the Search Volume Index did the same with a certain delay. The significant timestamps marked in the upper Graph are the following.

As we know the original iPhone has been presented in early 2007, has been released in mid 2007 (huge upward burst in searches) and “A”marks the release of its successor, the iPhone 3G. Android on the other hand has been bought by Google in 2005 and had its initial release in late 2008. This definitely hasn’t been as much of a hit on Google Search.

Of course I’m not implying anything about the capabilities or limitations of those Subjects. I just wanted to share this because the Trends didn’t even remotely compare the way i expected them to.

Source

Sick and twisted fruit

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To scratch the topic of Mobile Computing once again I want to take you through the processes of setting up an iPhone and a Nokia N97 Mini with a Bluetooth driven wireless Keyboard. The reason I’m doing this is of course due to recent events I experienced and – SPOILER ALERT – the iPhone fails miserably under almost all circumstances. Successful ones could unfortunately not be tested.

The Keyboard used can be seen on the following picture, accompanied by the successfully paired N97 Mini:

HPIM0277

Why it’s a Bluetooth Keyboard designed by Apple themselves, just to make it a little less tough for the iPhone one might think. But I digress.

The step-by-step Instructions for the N97 Mini (or basically any Symbian S60 device) go as follows:

  1. Download the free Bluetooth Keyboard Application from Nokia.com. Choosing the right one shouldn’t be too hard, I didn’t find one for Symbian S60 5th Edition so i just took the first one which popped up an incompatibility alert but still installed and worked fine.
  2. After opening said Application, turn on your Keyboard and pair it with the Phone. In my case this included defining a Passkey like “123456” and then entering exactly that Passkey on the Keyboard. Pressing Return should finish the pairing process. I assume this works the same on all Bluetooth enabled Keyboards.
  3. That’s it. You’re set to write some text messages or even emails with your Bluetooth Keyboard.

On the iPhone on the other hand, the situation looks as follows. (At least that’s all I found out on a jailbroken iPhone 3G with the latest jailbreakable iPhone OS 3 on it).
When you turn on Bluetooth and search for devices, the (Apple !!) Keyboard does not show up. So if I’m not wrong that takes care of our first approach. The second approach then would be taking advantage of the freedom of a jailbroken iPhone. Do some searching on Google/Youtube and what I found was a Video explaining how to use an App (namely BTStack Keyboard) from the Cydia Store (which of course comes with jailbreaking the device) to use Bluetooth Keyboards with your iPhone. The only catch you ask? It costs 5 Dollars and since I neither own an iPhone, nor a Cydia Store Account (or whatever is needed to buy their Apps) my trail to success stopped there.

If there is another approach, be it for jailbroken or non-jailbroken iPhones please let me know. Nothing would please me more than knowing that Apple isn’t having such a tight stranglehold on its customers after all. Smartphones set aside, I’m one of them as you can see from the picture.

Of course it’s not surprising that the Nokia Device works with an Apple Keyboard. The Bluetooth Standard is the same for everybody, also for Apple luckily. And of course it might not make perfect sense to everybody that I’m connecting a Keyboard to a Mobile Phone that has a QWERTZ Keyboard built-in. To be honest I’d know a lot more to do with such a keyboard on an iPhone than on this N97 Mini. Seems like it’s not supposed to happen.

What sucks Golf Balls through a Garden Hose?

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There’s a few things boggling my mind from time to time. For one I am a regular visitor of both thedailyshow.com and colbertnation.com to watch their latest and greatest episodes which have been broadcasted on Comedy Central the day before. As a European Citizen I am not fortunate enough to be able to watch these shows live. On the other hand I read quite a lot of blogs regularly that attract my interest and among those are a few Apple/Mac related ones that show me what I should think about the company that assembled my beloved MacBook.

The 2 topics I want to go into in this post both apply to its title at least to some degree in my eyes. As someone who comes from a country where health care for everybody isn’t just a good idea but an applied concept I cannot possibly wrap my head around the issues this great nation called the United States of America is facing right now just to get a vague idea of what the future of 50 Million (!) Americans without Health Care is going to look like, let alone figuring out a real concept. And as someone who studies the matter this thing called iPhone wants to be a part of I want to provide my personal opinion on what has been happening around this product both since its release and recently.

Health Care:

I do have to say that my knowledge about the subject is solely based on many many Daily Show Episodes and a short documentary I’ve stumbled over on TV lately. I understand however that as much as this Comedy Central footage is supposed to be satire and entertainment it never fails to catch the essential and almost always disturbing truth behind its topics.

In the documentary I mentioned there was a woman who needed a liver transplant because of cancer but she just couldn’t afford one plus she was a single mother of three. Very touching story if someone from an equally structured society were to watch that. For me it was just enraging. Another person in this documentary was some cowboy-ish millionaire who was both a supporter of the Republican party and the US Health Care System, stating that it did not have any flaws at all and that it was necessary for at least some doctors to say “Hell yea, I want to get paid less than I’m worth just so I can help the poor free of charge by limiting my quality of service to the absolute minimum”. Of course he did not say that but I just did. Lots of people who struggle with health problems don’t have any option but to stand in line for free low-quality medical care in this country and to think that this can live up to any standard a rich nation like this one should provide their people is just bollocks.

The 2 “Points of Interest” I spin my thoughts around here are the Health Insurance Companies and the US Military Expenses.

If you want to get health insurance in the US it’s not much different from getting insurance for your car. You have to be perfectly healthy because the insurance has every right to turn you down if they think you won’t make them enough profit, meaning if you look like you could get sick anytime soon you won’t be insured. And if you get sick and they see any bit of proof that you could’ve been developing this medical condition before you got the insurance it’ll be called a “preexisting condition” and they won’t pay for you. Of course this doesn’t end your insurance. You’re still allowed to pay them money for not doing anything if you want to.

What I’m pretty sure had never been mentioned on any TV Station in all of the US though is how the Government’s Military Expenses could be redistributed so much better in this case. If you’re in the US you don’t talk shit about the wars they are fighting somewhere else. Just like you’re better off staying at home if you’re in Iran right now. I don’t remember the figures but those wars cost the US quite a bit of money every single day and to finish my rant about this topic I have to ask, is whining about how they have such huge money problems both concerning economy and health care an acceptable concept for the American people while they are fighting expensive questionable wars elsewhere?

iPhone:

As someone who specializes on Mobile Computing I have more than one reason to be against a purchase of this product. When the iPhone came it I have to admit I was all hyped up as well. I even pre-ordered the first generation iPod Touch when it got announced. I never regret that purchase but for a mobile phone there’s just too many flaws in its business plan.

The iPhone is the manifestation of what makes Apple’s fondness of Digital Rights Management (DRM) both work well and annoying at the same time. With products like the Palm Pre and various Android Devices coming out it raises the question whether it really is better to tell your users distinctively both what they are allowed and what they are not allowed to do. Apple sure does that and it sets boundaries that are often uncertain as to whether something you want to do can be done or not. For example a Software Developer who wants to get his piece of the App Store Cake can write a good piece of code hoping for an income from it but he will never know whether his App will make it into the App Store unless he spends the time on bringing out a working version of it and hope for the best as he submits it to Apple. If they turn it down, he might have wasted his time.

The most popular recent denial of an App was of course the official Google Talk iPhone App which was refused like many others because it provides functionality already inside the iPhone. And although these rejections are most probably rather thanks to Apples Partnership with AT&T than Apple itself it still does not make a bit of sense to me. Apple is a newbie in this market and they won’t have the courage of admitting that. The first generation iPhone was a technologic disaster by any measure and they used lame excuses like “battery life issues” for not using the 3G standard and going for the slower EDGE. They have quite a few guidelines for developers who want to write software for the App Store just because their phone is too slow to work smoothly with software that doesn’t follow these guidelines.

The iPhone OS which I get the chance of using through my iPod Touch has become a lot better since version 1.0 but it’s not necessarily better than any other mobile OS out there now. It finally got MMS capability, video capturing and the much needed Copy-Paste feature nearly any other Smartphone has.

What upsets me so much is that Apple can do all this seemingly without losing a single buck of stock market worth in the process. They can bring out a crappy phone to begin with but wrap it nicely and any fanboy will stand in line to buy it. They can upgrade it to a less crappy phone which implies admitting that the first one was crap and still more people will buy it. No matter how big they fail under the surface, what defines their success is how they present it on the surface and this is where I would like to advise people to take a look at things from a different angle before buying such a piece of hardware and literally trading it in for their soul and some cash.

There’s so many products out there that are both cheaper to buy and get you a better overall experience. Nokia would be my biggest recommendation for anybody seeking a phone right now. Falling for the advantages of the App Store is easy but the pressure under which others have to live because of those advantages is not worth it in my eyes. Apple needs to see that their current plan for a presence in the cellular market is not what people want. Or at least not what they should want.

Time Machine and Apple Multi-Touchpads

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Without finding nor providing an excuse for my absence around here I think I have gathered enough things to talk about to fill a blog entry once again after some weeks of hard work on multiple school projects.

time-machine-logoYesterday I came to the realization that I don’t even have to buy any additional hardware in order to be able to use the Time Machine feature of my MacBook. Since I bought my Network Attached Storage I had a 500GB USB Storage laying around with nothing to do. At first I tried to modify Time Machine in order to be able to use it as a Network Storage although it isn’t a Time Capsule from Apple. After a variety of weird Error Messages (which seem to be one of the reasons why Apple only supports their own Time Capsules) I decided to connect it via USB.

It works like a charm. Time Machine backs up to this Storage hourly whenever it is connected while the MacBook is not on battery operation. It keeps those hourly backups for the last 24 hours and lowers them to daily updates for the last 7 days accordingly. Furthermore it keeps weekly updates of my files until there is no storage left. So to retrieve a lost file or file-state one opens a Finder (=Explorer) Window and directs it to where you once had your file the way you want it to have now. You launch Time Machine and it takes the Finder Window on a journey to the past. You specify the Date you want to go back to and the contents of the Window will change to what they have been like at that time.

So whenever my MacBook is connected to the Storage those backups will be made regularly and I can make those journeys to the past.

To switch to another topic, something I wanted to talk about in my Blog for a long time now is how satisfied I am with the way the new Multi-Touch Trackpads from Apple work.

new-macbook-trackpad

Since the introduction of the Multi-Touch concept by Apple with the iPhone this has proven to be a hit among customers looking for ways to interact with their hardware more intuitively. And it has proven my conviction wrong that touch-pads cannot be a tool for a serious workflow on a mobile computer.

With this Trackpad I do not feel the need of grabbing a hold of my Mouse on every occasion.

I do not feel hindered by technology when working with it. It has size and it doesn’t recognize the accidental touch as a click like many others do and it does not have a dedicated Click-Button since it itself is the button which you can press down on which I think is way more intuitive than having your own click-button when most people just want to click on the touchpad itself anyways.

Whenever someone uses it for the first time they stumble across the problem that clicking and holding down on the Trackpad while dragging a scrollbar across the screen can be rather annoying. What they do not know of course is that its primary intent isn’t that at all. Since it can receive multiple inputs you can for example right-click when clicking with two fingers or scroll while sliding across with two fingers. In supported applications the possibilities are even higher in number. You can pinch and zoom in iPhoto. You can use a 4-finger swipe to get to your desktop or to Exposé (a grid of all open windows). You can use 3 fingers to go through an iPhoto Album.

Of course every application can implement their own functionalities for these, which means that sooner or later there will be even more advantages for users of this Trackpad since they are now being built into every mobile Mac Apple ships.

So this entry has been very Apple-based but this should just go to show that although I believe to be very critical of what companies like Apple do these days (because I absolutely don’t think their philosophy is better than anyone else’s) I can’t help being astonished by their way of thinking once in a while.

Have a nice weekend

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